Design research’s health not quite as good as medical’s

Glad to see ‘market research’ is moving on (Design Business, DW 12 February). So is ‘design research’ – slowly. Professional practitioners and university-based design researchers are trying to get their acts together, as are medical practitioners and their university colleagues.

Medical researchers collaborate with practitioners in the hospitals and do ‘pure’ research into some fundamental issues in the universities. The design community does not to do enough of this though, which is holding the design disciplines back compared to others.

It is not a simple matter, largely due to lack of similar resources to those enjoyed by medics. Also, the profession and practitioners have not taken the matter seriously enough until recently, and the international design research community is a hotbed of contention too.

The Design Council hosted a Design Unity meeting on design research last year to get things moving, and on 20 March there is an event organised by the Design Research Society with the Royal College of Art Society, supported by the Chartered Society of Designers.

Following a BBC Question Time format, this joint DRS-RCA Society Event aims to get some hot issues aired. Panelists, including Paula Neal, head of research at design consultancy PDD, will answer questions from the audience. Check out the event at

Alec Robertson

Publications officer

DRS Council

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